Conan comic tie-in reveals plot details?

Dave at the Robert E. Howard Forums alerts us that a new comic tie-in synopsis seems to reveal aspects of the movie’s backstory, specifically in relation to Khalar Zym – and it seems we finally know the identity of Khalar’s standard. Dare you brave the spoilers?

Here’s the complete info. Once again, SPOILERS ahoy:

Adapted from the new film!
CONAN THE BARBARIAN: THE MASK OF ACHERON
Stuart Moore (W), Gabriel Guzman (P/Cover), and Jason Gorder (I)
On sale July 20
FC, 64 pages
$6.99
One-shot
After witnessing his wife burned at the stake, warlord Khalar Zym sets out on a quest to find the mythical Mask of Acheron, an ancient artifact that will bring his beloved back to life. In his search across the lands, Zym destroys a village in northern Cimmeria, where a boy born of battle survives and is cast out into the world, alone.
Years later, Zym crosses paths again with the boy who survived—Conan. He must now contend with this barbarian nuisance who is now set on vengeance for the slaughter of his village. Zym and his daughter, Marique, eventually clash with Conan in an epic final battle, the outcome of which will decide the fate of the world.
• Based on Conan the Barbarian, the new major motion picture starring Jason Momoa, Rose McGowan, and Ron Perlman.
Conan the Barbarian: The Mask of Acheron © 2011 Conan Properties International LLC (“CPI”). CONAN, CONAN THE BARBARIAN, THE SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN, HYBORIA, and related logos, characters, names, and distinctive likenesses thereof are trademarks or registered trademarks of CPI. All rights reserved.

So, it appears that Zym’s motivations in the film are fairly human: he wants to bring his dead wife back to life. Thus, as in Conan the Barbarian, the destruction of Conan’s village and people was purely collateral, a footnote in Zym’s quest for knowledge.

Now, see that tentacular device Zym’s clutching in his right hand? Doesn’t that look familiar…

Ah-ha!

Editorial

It has been said before that one of the subjects of the script rewrites was in the form of Khalar Zym, and making him more sympathetic and well-rounded as a villain. Altering his backstory so that his motivation becomes a journey to bring his (presumably executed) wife from the grave is indeed quite a human desire. That said, this just compounds one of the most glaring problems from the original screenplay – the fact that Zym got to northern Cimmeria in the first place, and what in blazes he was doing there.

Geography class in session:

The lands ruled by Acheron in the Hyborian Age were spread over a few key regions: eastern Aquilonia, eastern Argos, and southern Nemedia. In addition, Acheron claimed dominion over Ophir, Corinthia and western Koth as vassal kingdoms. Cimmeria was separated from Acheron by north and western Aquilonia, a good few hundred miles between them. So quite why Zym thinks this Mask of Acheron is  hundreds of miles from the Acheronian empire is beyond me, unless the Cimmerians bore this artefact of unspeakable magical horror away with their plunder for some unfathomable reason.

Then there’s the whole “bringing his wife back to life” thing. A good number of Hyborian-Era sorcerers have power over life and death: you’d think a powerful warlord like Zym would be able to recruit them into his services. Of course, most of said necromantic incidents do not truly restore life, but a pale imitation, as was the case with Xaltotun and Thothmekri. I don’t particularly like tying Acheron into any story that appears before The Hour of the Dragon, but it seems inevitable, like so many things with this film.

If there’s one thing to remember, though, it’s that the comic adaptation may have significant divergences from the final film. Remember Marvel’s Conan the Barbarian comic adaptation, and L. Sprague de Camp’s novelization? They had a great many elements from the script which were altered or even absent in the final film. Once again, we return to the waiting game.

It does say something about how fixated on origin stories the filmmakers are when they decide a character in the origin story needs an origin story in itself. Considering Dynamite’s Thulsa Doom got published…